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300 to 500 words...seriously!


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...is not enough to adequately state my research interests, strengths, and goals.  In my (I guess) verbose opinion!  Arg! Why must some SOPs be so short, esp when they are the key factors to admission.

 

ok, back to writing; I'll stop venting now :)

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I feel your pain. I remember I had four versions of my SOP: 300 words, 500 words, 1 page, and 2 page. I always felt the 1 and 2 page versions were the strongest. They were focused but still allowed me enough latitude to articulate my research focus and qualifications. The 300 word statement was brutal to do.

 

Not surprisingly, I didn't get admitted to either of the schools that asked for a 300-500 word SOP. Several schools liked my longer statements, though, and made offers.

 

Just keep working on it to get it where it needs to be. That's about all you can do. 300 words is very limiting. 

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Ha! I felt the same way. UIUC not only limits the statement to 500 words, but it also requires two writing samples! I remember submitting my application, assuming that was my weakest application. Imagine my shock when I was accepted! Looking back, I wonder if my shortest SoP was actually the strongest, since it really got to point quickly and clearly. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Ha! I felt the same way. UIUC not only limits the statement to 500 words, but it also requires two writing samples! I remember submitting my application, assuming that was my weakest application. Imagine my shock when I was accepted! Looking back, I wonder if my shortest SoP was actually the strongest, since it really got to point quickly and clearly. 

 

So, I went to UIUC for my undergrad and worked closely with the professors. When I sent one of my professors my SoP for review - I had struggled to cut it down to 500 words - he told me it was a "bit short for a personal statement." He didn't even know his own department's website had that word limit. 

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So, I went to UIUC for my undergrad and worked closely with the professors. When I sent one of my professors my SoP for review - I had struggled to cut it down to 500 words - he told me it was a "bit short for a personal statement." He didn't even know his own department's website had that word limit. 

ha!  That's awesome!

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I went to UIUC for undergrad as well and they have the same word limit for their undergraduate personal essays. 500 words makes sense for an undergrad application essay imo (cuts down the fluff), but for graduate applications that is just crazy! But I guess that's why they require two writing samples. And on a positive note, it does sort of let you know beforehand what part of the application the department values the most. Not that you'd spend any less time on the SoP, of course lol. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

When they ask for just 500 words, do you pretty much just say "Hi, I'm _____.  (not literally)...I'm interested in...(and then state your research interests)"?  It would seem that that's all there's room for!

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I don't know why I didn't offer this before, but I'm happy to share my 500 word SoP for Illinois, where I was accepted but will not be attending. PM me if you'd like to me to send it to you. I don't think it's brilliant or anything, but I did manage to trim 500+ words off my primary SoP, a feat of which I am very proud! 

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